Disclaimer: -man does not belong to me. Only Katsura Hoshino could rip our hearts out so efficiently. I only hope I can make her proud with this story. This story is my property and any person, thing, or events that are similar to anything is pure coincidence. I only own Rhea, her golem, and any other characters I have created for this story. Please apply this disclaimer to all chapters as I don't wish to keep writing this. It's a pain. XD Enjoy the story!
"Normal is an illusion. What is normal to the spider is chaos for the fly."
― Morticia Addams
A shrill cry echoed through the fog. It was not the cry of a child nor that of an animal. Figures moved through the mist, a few stragglers wandering through the mostly deserted streets were completely ignorant of the impending danger. Another piercing shriek reverberated through, bouncing off the walls and the people themselves. A pair of women walked together paused.
"Did you hear that?" One asked the other. The second woman pushed some of her blonde hair away from her eyes.
"Hear what?" The first woman looked around. The mist was too dense to really see anything.
"I must be imagining things."
"You've been with those mining men for too long. The fumes are getting to you." The second one shook her head at her friend. "Let's call it a night. We've had plenty of customers. This mist is freaking me out."
"Yeah me too." The pair paused to stare at the man that was slowly shuffling towards them. The blonde took a deep breath and started towards him.
"I'm sorry Sir, but we're not doing any more business tonight. Come back tomorrow. The man ignored her. "Sir did you hear me? I said we aren't doing anymore business tonight." The man began to shake causing the two woman to step back and away from him.
"I think he's sick." The words had no sooner left her mouth before the man's skin split open and a humongous monstrosity exploded out of him. The used skin crumpling to the ground like a wet newspaper with a squelch. Both women screamed and took off running, their skirts clutched in their white knuckles. They struggled to get away through the throng of other people running away. The numerous guns that lined the beast began firing. All around them people began to disintegrate into dust as soon as they were hit. The two women screamed as the man right next to them in the bowler hat was struck. Stars spread across his skin before it darkened and then he was gone. The blonde screamed and tripped over the back of her skirt as she tried to backpedal away from where the body should have dropped. As the brunette tried to pull her up another figure flew by.
"Hey! You're going the wrong way!" The figure ignored them, running straight at the demon. Black liquid slid out from under the sleeves of the strange jacket the person was wearing.
"Miss! You need to go!" A man wearing a long tan jacket with some bizarre metal pack on his back pulled her to her feet. "Please get to safety!" He urged her, gently pushing her towards her friend and away from the battle. Ducking behind a building the blonde couldn't help but stop and watch the fight. The figure, which she could now see was a woman, leapt at the monster. The black liquid solidified into a long whip. The monster let out a high pitched screech as the whip left a long gash in the armor of the creature. The whip snapped against the cobblestones shattering it before the woman hopped around the thing, avoiding bullets longer than her arm. They rained down but the stranger danced out of the way, fancy gymnastic moves thrown in all the while looking completely effortless. The whip wrapped around the monstrosity several times before pulling taut. It screamed as the coil tightened before it exploded. Pieces of metal showered the road and the whip disappeared. The man in the tan jacket ran up.
"Are you injured Lady Exorcist?" The hooded figure turned their head towards the man.
"No, I'm fine. Did you manage to clear the civilians?" Her voice was low and smokey. Almost what she would expect a siren from Greek mythology to sound like.
"Yes but we must hurry, Lady Exorcist, or we'll miss our train!"
"Yes, yes. Let's go." The peculiar pair vanished before the blonde woman could even call out to them.
"Lady Exorcist! This way!" The finder yelled as he darted left, leading the way towards the bridge that the train would pass under any minute. The train whistle blew signaling it's proximity. They jumped, landing on the roof. "We need to get inside before it gets to the tunnel." He shouted, trying to be heard over the wind. The woman nodded and they dropped down through the train roof and into the safety of the car. A train attendant rushed over to them.
"I'm sorry but you can't be here," he paused for a moment, "actually how did you even get up there?" His brown eyes filled with confusion as he stared at the pair.
"We jumped from the bridge." It was the woman who answered him.
"But that could have killed you-" He trailed off before shaking his head, " Regardless of how you got on you can't be here. This is first class-" The finder cut him off.
"We're with the Black Order. Please prepare a cabin." At those words his eyes found the rose crest on the jacket the woman was wearing.
"You're with the church?" The finder sighed at the man's stuttered words.
"Yes, we're with the Black Order." His eyes darted from the train attendant to the silent exorcist. She didn't make a move or even a sound of annoyance. "Now about that cabin?"
"My deepest apologies. I'll arrange one immediately!" The man bowed and ran off.
"I'll be right out here if you need me, Lady Exorcist." The finder hadn't even closed the door when she called out to him.
"Fredrick, come, join me." He stepped into the room.
"And another thing," she cut him off, "you can call me Rhea. It's my name after all." She pushed the hood down, allowing her long twin fishtail braids to fall free. "It's a long ride and I highly doubt you are such bad company. So please, have a seat." She motioned to the plush seat across from the one she was sprawled out over, one leg crossed over the other. Reluctantly, the man took a seat.
"Thank you very much Lady Ex-" he stopped remembering what she had just said, "Lady Rhea." She sighed at his correction.
"I suppose that will do for now." She shrugged.
"You're an exorcist. You deserve respect!" He argued. She laughed, and shook her head.
"No more than you."
"I don't fight monsters, you do."
"They're not monsters. Lost souls taken advantaged of. Nothing more." The finder shifted uncomfortably. He had worked with exorcists with far worse opinions and quirks, still she was a strange girl to be sure.
"How did the mission go?" She looked up at him from her nails which she had been filing. He winced, wondering if he hadn't been supposed to speak.
"It went well." She answered him easily, obviously not caring that he had spoken out of turn. "There were some akuma but not enough that anybody should be worried about. I procured the innocence with ease. It was almost boring." She put her file back in the pouch which she had pulled it from and rested her head in her hand. "Things have been rather dull lately."
"Isn't that a good thing?" He stuttered, confusion evident in his brown eyes. She examined them for a minute, noting the darker ring of brown around the edge of his eye and the flecks of lighter brown around the pupil. They were certainly nice to look at, but the man as a whole did little for her. He seemed too timid to her. Or maybe she was too forward? Or perhaps strong willed?
Yeah," she sighed though she offered a lazy if not tired smile, "probably." If she was going to say anything else it was cut off by the cabin door sliding open. It hit the edge of the runner with a thunk. Both pairs of eyes turned to the man standing in the now open doorway. Fredrick stood up immediately.
"I'm sorry Sir, but you can't be here. This room is reserved. You'll have to find another one. I'm sure one of the train attendants can help you with that."
"Ex-ex-exor-cist." The man hissed staggering forward on unsteady legs.
"Sir, did you hear me?"
"Fredrick, get down." As soon as the words left the exorcist's mouth the finder hit the floor as the akuma exploded out of it's skin.
"Exorcist!" The akuma shrieked as it lunged for her, guns ready to fire.
"Activate!" A cloud of black smoke drifted from her jacket and enveloped the akuma. It screamed and flailed around as the smoke burned through it before it exploded.
"Thank you for saving me." Fredrick looked up but the exorcist only shook her head.
"Don't thank me yet. There are still more. Stay here. Tell the attendants to keep people calm, I'll deal with them." She bolted out the door, pausing to look at the people lurching towards her. All had sunken eyes, dark bags beneath them, and saggy pale skin. They looked horrendous. Her nose wrinkled at the sight of them. She whistled to get their attention, "This way dummies!" The akuma shed their skin, leaving it lying around on the ground as they chased after her. Flinging herself out the window she climbed up to the roof of the train car as it hurtled down the tracks. The akuma surrounded her. "Well I guess it's time to dance, ya eedjits." She grinned, as her innocence shot out, spearing through the first one. The one on her left fired a barrage of bullets. Rhea sprang backwards out of the way, landing on her hands and then feet again. "Well that wasn't nice." The akuma didn't answer her. "Well, at least you're quiet." She sighed dodging another group of bullets, swinging this way and that, backing away as she went. She glanced over her shoulder, the tunnel was getting closer and closer. "Oh shite." She stepped back, her foot slipping on the ice that had congealed on the roof. She yelped as she fell backwards, her head hitting the metal hard. She groaned and swung out of the way, her innocence wrapping around her boots. Rolling back onto her hands she kicked her feet through the akuma's head. She turned to the last one only to see more akuma clambering out of the window. "Oh come on!" The whistle blew loudly. She covered her ears with her hands. Whirling around she saw the tunnel was right on top of her. Muttering a long string of curses in the tongue of her birthplace under her breathe she jumped off the train and ran. Her boots thundered against the top of the tunnel. The station wasn't much farther after the underpass. She needed to tie this up. The innocence dissipated into smoke as she landed on the train once more and rushed forward consuming the akuma as the train skid to a stop. She lurched and staggered trying to keep her balance. She tumbled off the top of the train, just barely able to catch herself before she crashed to the ground.
"Lady Rhea! Are you okay?" Fredrick came rushing over carrying her messenger bag. He grabbed her elbow and gently pulled her up to her feet.
"Yes," she took the time to dust herself off, "I'm just clumsy." She sighed. "That took far longer than it should have. I must be losing my touch."
"You saved them and me."
"It's really not a big deal. Let's head out." He nodded at her words and led the way.
"Hey! Rhea! You're home!" Said girl looked up to see Johnny and Reever, the former was waving excitedly using his whole are though it had been Reever who had called out to her.
"Hey guys. What's up?" She smiled tiredly still rubbing her sore limbs. The tumble from the train hadn't been pleasant.
"Nothing much, really. Been pretty quiet, well as quiet as it can get here." Reever shrugged.
"We got a new exorcist. He's nice." Johnny was practically bouncing in his excitement.
"That's good. Is Komui in?" Both raised an eyebrow.
"Are you going to give him your report?" Reever asked. "It's a bit early for you isn't it?"
"Yeah normally you never give your report without somebody chasing you down." Johnny added on.
"Ha ha ha ha. Very funny." The girl shook her head, "But no, I'm gonna kill him for sending me on a three week long mission with no places for sleep and no translator. Not to mention there was more than 3 feet of snow." Both men gulped and pointed at his office having no problem with throwing their supervisor under the bus or in front of the irate girl. "Thanks." She stalked away.
"Do you think the Supervisor will be okay?" Johnny asked looking up at Reever who just shrugged.
"I honestly don't know. Maybe if he grovels. Though Lenalee might save him." Reever seemed to be comparing the girls in his head. "She might be able to stop Rhea."
"Should we go warn her?"
"Probably best." The two rushed off.
Not bothering to knock at all, Rhea simply kicked the door open. Komui jumped as the door slammed against the wall.
"Rhea, you're back! Why did you kick my door in? You're going to break it if you keep doing that." He pouted at her while she continued to glare balefully at him. His smile disappeared when he saw the look she was giving him. "What?" He asked. As she started stalking over to him, Komui tried to scramble behind his desk to hide, unfortunately it didn't give much cover. Grabbing the desk she tossed it across the room. It smashed against the wall with a loud bang and splintered into pieces.
"You! You bloody wanker," she growled as she yanked him up by his coat collar to shake him, "if you ever send me somewhere cold like that I will find the Millennium Earl and make Lenalee his bride!"
"Not my precious Lenalee!" He sobbed uncontrollably struggling wildly to get out of her grasp. He clawed and scratched at her gloved hands.
"Brother? What's wrong?" Lenalee asked as she came running into the office. Komui immediately latched onto her, finally having managed to get away from Rhea, and continued to sob, begging her not to get married.
"What's going on?" Rhea turned to look at the owner as a new voice joined the conversation.
"Allen?" She asked eyes widening, surprised evident across her face. He looked over at her. Gray met green. A wide smile broke out on her face and she ran over and hugged him.
"Rey!" He returned the hug. The Chinese siblings looked over at them.
"You two know each other?" Lenalee inquired. Rhea nodded letting go of the boy.
"Allen and I trained together under General Cross. He's my brother in everything but blood. I was sent here earlier. Honestly, I wasn't sure if Allen would survive Master or not." Allen shuddered at the memories causing her to laugh. "I'm gonna take a wild guess and say that he didn't come with you." Allen shook a little.
"How did you ever guess?" She smiled at him.
"Well that's fine. I prefer you over him anyway."
"You didn't tell me that there was another student with you training under Cross." Komui pouted standing up. He was beginning to feel left out. Rhea glared at him.
"I did! You weren't listening. You were bemoaning the fact that I said I wouldn't protect Lenalee from Lavi and Kanda. Not that she needs it!" She snaps angrily. Pushing her anger away she turned back to Allen. "I'm so glad that you made it here alive. I was beginning to wonder if you died and Master just wasn't going to tell me because then the Black Order would be able to find him."
"No, I'm still alive. Honestly I was so caught up in all that had happened that I forgot to even check to see if you were here. I didn't see you when I first got here and then I got sent on a mission..." He trailed off thinking back to his first mission.
"That's fine, Allen. I was out on a mission anyway. Actually I had two right in a row. I didn't even manage to make it back between them. It sucks but it does happen." Allen nods in understanding. Kanda had been sent straight to another mission from Mater.
"So your missions were a success?" Komui asked interrupting the reunion as he stood up as if he hadn't just been a sobbing mess, slobbering all over his younger sister.
"Yes I procured the innocence and wiped out the akuma. It was hardly a work out. A few more found me and Fredrick on the train but they were easy to take out. Rhaps can show you the recording if you'd like to take a quick gander at it."
"So you have innocence for Hevlaska then?" Lenalee asked turning to lead the way down to Hevlaska's chamber.
"Yeah I grabbed them. Wanna come with me Allen? We have a lot to catch up on." Lenalee gave her a surprised look.
"Them? I thought the first mission was to destroy the akuma accumulating there." Rhea nodded.
"It was. The reason the akuma were there WAS because of a shard of innocence. It wasn't hard to steal. Akuma aren't exactly known for being the brightest. There were only a few level 2 akuma and a bunch of level 1s." Allen gave a low whistle at his sister's words.
"I fought a level 2 in Mater. It was such a pain. You fought several?" He asked. Rhea offered a shrug as she started towards Hevlaska's chambers.
"My innocence is different than yours, different abilities means that there are some things that I do better than you," she failed to notice that her brother was getting paler and paler as she spoke, "however it also means that there are things I can't do for the life of me that you can." The lackadaisical way in which she explained it reminded him of their Master.
"Rey," Allen sounded scared, his voice quacking ever so slightly, "you sounded just like Master right then." Said girl shuddered.
"Well, I won't be doing that anymore." Lenalee laughed as the two flinched at the memory of their master until something occurred to her.
"Could I talk to you for a moment, Rey?" Rhea raised an eyebrow questioningly but Lenalee's eyes darted to Allen for a moment before going back to her. "In private?" Rhea made a face of understanding and nodded.
"Yeah, sure." She turned to her brother, "Hey Al," she tossed him a bag which she pulled from the inside of her coat, "could you please bring these down to Hevlaska? I'll meet you there in a few minutes." Allen caught the bag with ease, pausing he opened the bag to peer down at the innocence his sister had collected.
"Sure!" He grinned at her and left, heading down to the chamber.
Rhea turned to Lenalee, "What's up Lena?"
"Well Allen just got here but got sent on a mission almost immediately so we haven't had time to set up his surprise party." Rhea raised a quizzical eyebrow but Lenalee quickly clarified, "his welcome party?" Rhea nodded with a smile and she continued, "It would be such a pity if the surprise was ruined so could you, maybe, please keep him busy for tonight and possibly tomorrow?" Rhea pondered this for a moment.
"Yeah that's easy enough. I doubt we'll go wandering around, probably go to my room and play cards while we chat. The game will most likely be forgotten within 15 minutes. We've got a lot to catch up on. I'll be sure to keep him up late so maybe he'll sleep in a bit later and give you guys more time. Shouldn't take much effort, he's a growing boy after all." She shrugged, stumbling back when Lenalee hugged her.
"You're the best Rey!" Rhea chuckled and patted her friend on the back.
"Yeah, sure. You remember that the next time Komui sends me somewhere cold." Lenalee cocked her head to the side in confusion.
"What's that mean?"
Rhea waved her off, "Oh nothing. Nothing at all. Anyway I'm gonna go catch up with Allen and see Hevlaska before we crack on. Have a good night Lenalee. Good luck with the party planning. See ya in the morning." She offered a lazy halfhearted wave over her shoulder as she left, jogging to catch up with her brother.
"Welcome home, Rhea Blackwood." She smiled up at the woman as she greeted her. Neither her nor Allen had jumped when Rhea had plummeted down the elevator channel. She landed with a thump.
"It's good to be back, Hevlaska." She stood up from her landing position.
"Didn't that hurt, Rey?" Allen asked with an arched eyebrow.
"No, not particularly." She dusted off her pants before walking over.
"I hope your mission went well. Did you have a safe trip?" Hevlaska asked softly, her voice warm and inviting almost like a mother's would be. Blurry memories of a voice of similar sound and tone sprung to her mind. Vague memories of ancient myths for bedtime stories; hushed words in her native tongue. Shaking her head to rid herself of a time long gone she answered.
"It wasn't too bad. Nothing of interest really happened. All in all, it wasn't anything I couldn't handle."
Allen glanced over at his sister as she spoke about her mission with Hevlaska. Though she spoke of one thing, her mind was clearly far away. She sounded so wistful. She rarely sounded like that. He wondered if she ever missed her mother. She never spoke of the past, only the future. She rarely spoke of her mother, taken from her by the famine that had plagued her birthplace for years. He watched her hand the innocence over. Hevlaska tucked the two pieces away, where they would be safe.
"Thank you for saving these pieces. They will sleep, safe with me, until their accommodators can be found." The pair waved to her as they left.
"Have a good night Hevlaska." They chorused together. She smiled at them.
"Sleep well." She bid them good night and watched them sorrowfully. She saw pain and sadness in their futures. Danger was inevitable for the pair. Heartbreak and hard decisions were everywhere. Menacing shadows loomed over them. Rhea stood shrouded in the night surrounded by dark crosses. It left her feeling uneasy. For now they were safe. Blissfully unaware of their fate, just for this moment. In the morning their life would continue and they would be shipped out on their next mission. Whether they came back or not was up to them and the strength of their hearts. "I see your future and it is dark and cold. Nothing will be what it seems and you will be all alone. Have faith in each other and never let anything stray you from your path. You heart knows best. Be safe; life is never easy for those who dare to dream but you are creating a better future for others."
The peace of the night was shattered by alarms going off everywhere. Flashing red lights and blaring sirens woke them all. Rhea yelped as she fell out of bed and onto the floor with a painful thump. Through the wall she heard Allen do a similar thing. When the meaning of the horns going off finally registered in her head she groaned and grabbed her jacket as she rushed out.
"Rey!" Allen rushed out of his room, dragging his coat with him. "Rey, what's going on?!" He shouted to be heard over the alarm.
"Akuma!" Rhea responded, jerking her head for him to follow, as she ran down the corridor. Lenalee met up with them.
"Akuma? Here?!" Allen cried.
"No," Lenalee corrected as she led the way, "there's no way they could get in here. It means that they're close though, not here, but it's close enough that we need to exterminate them so they don't find us." She finished explaining as they skid to a stop as Komui came into their view. "Komui! What's going on?"
"Akuma have swarmed the neighboring town. It appears that they've followed a returning exorcist back. He's fighting them now but has radioed in for help. You three are being dispatched to help him. Go now!"
The three nodded seriously, "Right!" Not bothering to salute him they ran off, towards the main gate, their boots pounding against the floor as they thundered through, not bothering to worry about waking the other sleeping occupants of the Order. They leapt from the top of the cliff, hurtling towards the akuma at high speed. All three landed on different akuma.
"About time you showed up!" The only other exorcist there jumped over towards them.
"You can bitch later!" Rhea shouted at him.
"Innocence activate! The three shouted together. The light of Lenalee and Allen's invocation shone brightly. Rhea's innocence slid from her arms silently. The mist surrounded the akuma she currently stood on. It shook, trying to get away from the mist burning through it's armor. Another akuma turned towards her, all guns aimed directly at her. She backed away, one boot slid off the edge of the akuma.
"Rey!" Lenalee bounded over, grabbing her as she flew by.
"Thanks Lena!" She landed on her feet on the roof of the nearest building. Lenalee waved and immediately turned, kicked through another akuma. "Harlequin!" The innocence reformed, moving like liquid, spearing through several akuma as it shot over to her. She glanced around, eyes searching for Allen. She found him in a corner, tearing through the level one akuma like butter with his giant claw working his way towards the center. Lenalee was cleaning up the other corner moving in a similar fashion. In the middle of the fray, of course, was the exorcist who had caused the problem in the first place. His long sword cleaving akuma in two with ease. He moved from akuma to akuma effortlessly as if he had been born to do it. "I should probably get back to work too, huh?" Her innocence shifted back into mist and she saw Harlequin's true form for a moment and then it was gone. She smirked. "Shift!" The mist condensed into liquid and then formed a halberd.
"Come down from there silly little exorcist!" Rhea glared down at the scorpion like level 2 that was shrieking at her. Not even bothering with a response she dropped from the roof, halberd raised above her head. She fell upon the akuma splitting it in two vertically. She whirled around on the next level two, coming at her from behind, adjusting her grip as she went. She swung her blade horizontally. Seven level 2 akuma that all looked pretty much the same to her, dog piled on top of her. Rhea pushed back with the handle of Harlequin. Taking in a deep breath, filling her lungs, she shoved back. The akuma flew off. Two were cut into pieces by the long sword. She grinned at him, offering a jaunty salute before dealing with the other akuma, leaving the hulking steaming pieces all over the ground. He smirked back at her before his eyes widened. Flipping his sword he hurled it towards her, using his shield to defend against the akuma in front of him. The sword whizzed over her head and straight between the seven eyes of the akuma sneaking up on her. She didn't spare it a glance as she yanked the sword free and ran over. Rolling across his back she tossed him the sword back. Rhea hurtled towards Allen, as eight akuma backed him up, further and further towards the wall. He clawed through them as fast as he could but it seemed like for every akuma he got rid of three more took its place.
"Leave my little brother alone!" Her enraged cry drew the akuma's attention.
"Rey!" Allen shouted leaping at the closest one. The halberd melted into a whip crashing through the line of akuma. Another snap of the whip tangle a level one up in it's coils. Allen vaulted over Rhea; his fist going nails first through another level one intent on firing at Rhea. "Please be more careful!" He chided her but she merely grinned back at him.
"I know you've got my back!" She hurled the level one still tied up in her whip at a level two springing at Lenalee's exposed back. Both exploded. Allen sighed at her.
"Rhea! Above you!" The other exorcist bellowed causing the siblings to look up. High in the sky directly above their heads a group of level ones prepared to fire. Bright purple light building at the end of the cannons. "Move!" The order came too late. Allen tackled his sister to the ground, using his own body as a shield for hers.
"Allen, no!" Rhea wasn't heard over the roar of the bullets as they rained down. Allen looked up, feeling no pain despite hearing the bullets hit something. The other exorcist stood over them, shield raising over his head though he struggled to push the bullets back.
"You're impressive kid. I'll give you that." He grunted out, tossing the bullets to the side. He huffed as he dropped the shield, letting it and his arms hang by his side. "Not many people, not even exorcists, would jump in front of somebody else like that." Allen made a face at him.
"I can purify the virus with my parasitic innocence, besides," Allen wrinkled his nose at the man, "she's my sister." The man grinned at him and offered a hand. Allen let himself be pulled back to his feet.
"Waltz: Mist Winds!" Lenalee's whirlwind attack destroyed the akuma preparing to fire again. "Are you guys okay?!" She shouted landing on a nearby rooftop.
"We're fine, new recruit's got guts!" The large man laughed as Allen helped Rhea to her feet.
"Let's hurry up and finish this." Rhea grumbled brushing the dirt from her boots and pants, already glaring at her brother. He winced, knowing that they were going to be having a talk later and he doubted it would be fun. He was in trouble, she was pissed!
"Anybody got something that will get rid of these aresholes all at once?" The man asked, glaring at the akuma that still covered the sky.
"I can if you guys wanna drive them towards the moon." Rhea spoke up. The other three nodded.
"Right!" Splitting up the three start herding the akuma into the center of the sky. Taking a deep breath, Rhea sent her innocence hurtling into the air. Like spilled ink, it spread across the heavens until the moon and stars were hidden away, as if they had never been there before.
"Waltz: Mist Winds!" Lenalee sent more akuma fleeing into Harlequin's embrace. On the other side Allen pushed the pack back.
"Cross Grave!" The bright light shone, illuminating the dark innocence above it. Slowly it began to wrap around, closing in on the akuma, bottle necking it's prey in. Several akuma bolting down for the small opening only to be sheared in half by the great long sword.
"Not happening!" He grinned at them as the liquid innocence sealed up. Taking a deep breath, Rhea let it settle in her chest for a moment, her hand hung in the air before her eyes snapped open and she clenched her fist. With the silent order given Harlequin crushed the akuma. A loud shrieking squeal permeated the air for a moment and then the akuma were dead. A level two dove for Rhea's open back only for Lenalee to drop out of the sky like a meteor, straight onto it's head. Allen shredded the last level two and silence fell over them. Sighing with relief the four exorcists allowed their innocence to deactivate.
"Well," Rhea broke the silence, "that was a thing." The others groaned but she just laughed.
"Sorry about that, my name is Zahari Macedonski." The man held out his hand for Allen to shake but the boy just looked at him bewildered in how to pronounce his name.
"Zack," Rhea chided. The newly named exorcist laughed.
"But you can call me Zack." He finished. Allen finally took his hand.
"It's nice to meet you. My name's Allen."
"I've heard a lot about you." Zack spoke though he was shooting Rhea a look.
"Good things I hope?" Allen asked nervously.
"Oh yes. Rey doesn't stop talking about you. Her little brother is just so wonderful. Absolutely perfect! He can't do anything wrong! There's nobody in the world that's as good as him." Zack did his best to imitate how the girl had sounded but it wasn't working too well. "I was beginning to think that you were a figment of her imagination. Didn't think anybody could be that perfect." Zack chortled elbowing Rhea in the ribs with his free arm as he spoke. She stuck her tongue out at him at his jest. "You've got a good handshake though."
"I'm not perfect by any means." Allen assured him easily, allowing his hand to drop back to his side. They all started back towards the Order.
"I don't think anybody is but at least you are real."
Rhea interrupted the conversation, "You really though I was making him up?! Zack you are such a giant dick!" Zack only laughed until she launched herself at him. He ducked through she landed on her feet, skid, turned and lunged again. Zack ran for his life with Rhea thundering after him. Allen and Lenalee followed at a more sedated pace, content to watch the two horse around.
"Are they always like this?" Allen asked jerking his thumb in the direction of the pair. Rhea was still chasing Zack though now she was throwing things too. Things that they would, no doubt, have to pay for. Allen only hoped that he and his sister wouldn't have to pay for it personally. They had enough debt to deal with from their horrible layabout master.
"Yeah Zack's pretty good at keeping Rey occupied. She hasn't gotten too bored. She got bored once, early on, when she first got to the Order, and we'll never do that again." Lenalee shuddered at the memory of the chaos the girl had unleashed upon deciding that nothing interesting was happening. "Zack seems to have Rey's brand of crazy so they get along great. She's also good friends with Daisya," she paused for a moment to think, "much to the chagrin of Kanda." Allen snorted at that. He was okay with that. "You'll meet him later." Lenalee reassured him easily.
"If he bothers Kanda then he's good in my books." Lenalee laughed lightly, her giggle like bells, at his comment.
"It's not just Daisya, though he tends to annoy Kanda too, but when you put Rhea and Daisya together they usually cause trouble usually at the expense of Kanda." She explained, her eyes darting over to gauge his reaction. Though he seemed sweet Kanda somehow managed to bring out a darker side in him. She had also yet to see the siblings together. After visiting Hevlaska the pair had disappeared to Rey's room. Neither had been seen till the alarm went off. Rey seemed to give up chasing Zack who had gotten a way away from her. She chucked one last rock before rounding back to them.
"Giving up Rey?" Allen asked arching an eyebrow at her. She shot him a smirk in return.
"Now Allen, when have you ever known me to give up?"
"Never!" He grinned. She was up to something. He could see it in her smile and in her eyes. They glittered the way they did when she was plotting, like the last time when she had poured a homemade truth serum into their Master's wine. Too bad neither of them had expected him to spill the secrets of his sexual exploits instead of war stories and battle abilities. Cross hadn't bothered to punish them because they were already so traumatized by the entire experience all in of itself. Come to think of it, he thought, glancing at his sister, that was about the time Master decided that Rhea was ready for the Order but said that I still needed another year or so of training at least. He was distracted by Lenalee laughing at something Rey said.
"Will you guys hurry up? Zack shouted back at them, waving them over to where he stood. "You'd swear that you three had been on a six week mission and not me." Rey kicked a rock, with extreme precision, at him. The rock hit him in the knee and he yelped. "Rey! That's not nice!"
She cocked one hip out in response with her arms crossed over her chest, "Since when am I nice?"
"You're nice to me." Allen piped up causing Zack to pout at her.
"Why are you nice to him but cruel to me?" He was practically whining now.
"He's my little brother. You're not." She tapped a black painted nail to her bottom lip thoughtfully, "He's also a lot cuter than you." Rhea winked as Zack exclaimed loudly, wailing grief, staggering back as if he had been shoved or physically struck, hands clutching at his chest. Allen felt his face heat up.
"Rey!" She ignored his hiss, laughing the whole way back. The others were surprised that they hadn't managed to wake the entire neighborhood.
Komui met them at the gate as they trudged in, limbs aching, "Good job! Excellent work!" He paused in his praising to hug Lenalee in a death grip and then to cry about her missing important beauty sleep.
"So what you're sayin'" Rhea drawled watching the display with a look of disgust, "is that she isn't pretty enough on her own and thus needs 'beauty sleep' to make her more beautiful?" Komui gasped shrilly. Rhea immediately covered her ears at the loud noise, trying to drown out Komui's tirade about Lenalee, her beauty, and cuteness. She noticed Allen doing the same while Lenalee's face burned. They tried to inch away from him but he merely moved alone with them. Finally Rhea had enough, "Look! A boy trying to kiss Lenalee!" Komui whirled around to where she pointed with rage only to find Lenalee standing alone.
"Hey! There's no boy," he trailed off as he turned back around to find that the siblings had vanished. "That's not nice." He pouted. "I was in the middle of talking."
Allen stumbled a bit, trying to keep pace as his sister dragged him down the hall full on running. "Rey slow down! One of us is going to trip!" She darted around a sharp corner almost crashing into Kanda though she didn't bother slowing down.
"Watch it woman!" Kanda demanded, staggering as he tried to regain his balance, but she only shot him a devious smirk in response. "Oi! Are you even listening to me?! Woman!"
"Not really!" The siblings shouted together, Allen taking the time to shoot an evil smile over his shoulder at Kanda. He could forgive his sister for running Kanda over. He understood the feeling of wanting to. Just a few doors down, right next to his he noted, Rhea paused long enough to unlock the door before dragging him in.
"That! We'll be safe in here from the lunatic," she paused, "for now anyway." Allen shook his head at his sister.
"You know this wouldn't have happened if you hadn't instigated him." She merely shrugged at his point.
"I didn't do it on purpose," she pouted at him, jutting out her bottom lip, "it just kinda slipped out." Allen sighed fondly.
"That tends to happen a lot." She smiled at him brightly and they settled down on the bed. Timcampy nuzzled up to Rhaps, the pair snoozing on one of the many pillows that covered Rhea's nest like bed. Allen was pretty sure his sister was part owl or maybe dragon. How she ever used all the pillows he didn't know. He glanced around the room. It wasn't big but it probably seemed smaller than his because it was cluttered. Her desk was overrun with mechanical pieces and tools. Half finished creatures and projects. Drawn designs and blueprints were pinned to the walls. He could also spot a basket with what looked to be an assortment of shiny things that were probably not hers. "I see your hobbies haven't changed much." He nodded to her desk and the basket.
"Yeah, it's easier now that we aren't moving around all the time. I do have to wonder how many times did I leave a half finished project lying around because Master pulled us out after the bill got too high or we got run out of town."
"Countless, no doubt." Allen answered with a laugh. He paused, allowing his eyes to dart to Rey. "So," he started drawing out the word, trying to sound as casual as possible, "you seem pretty close to Zack." Her eyes met his as she arched an eyebrow in response.
"Yeah, Zack's a good friend." Rey watched her brother carefully contemplating where he was going with this.
"How long have you known him?"
"About a year, just like everybody else at the Order." She shot him a look, signifying how silly she thought his question was.
"Do you like him?"
"I just said he's a good friend. What part of that did you miss?" Allen made a face, wrinkling his nose at her.
"I'm just asking. He wasn't here when I first came so I don't know anything about him." His sister narrowed her eyes and leaned closer. Knowing she was onto him Allen looked away, scooting further down the bed as subtly as he could. If it were anybody else they wouldn't have noticed but she knew him too well. Slowly a smile spread across her face. A smile that he didn't like.
"We're just friends Allen. Nothing more." His face scrunched up as she got straight to the point.
"Rey, I didn't ask that." He pouted but she just laughed at him.
"No," she agreed jaunty her smile spreading into an impish grin, "but it's what you were getting at." He scowled at her.
"I hate that you know me so well." Rey laughed at him some more.
"Well I should, I'm your older sister. It's my job." He wrinkled his nose but sighed knowing he wouldn't win the argument.
"So," she drawled, "how did Master ditch you?" Allen grimaced and rubbed the back of his head at the mere memory of it. His sister's grin only grew to the point where he wondered if she really was the Cheshire Cat. "Well?"
"He hit me with a hammer. It hurt. A lot."
"Yeah that sounds like Master. Whoever decided to give him kids was out of their bloody mind." Rhea spoke easily. "Does it still hurt?" She asked as he continued to rub the back of his head.
"I can't tell. I've taken several hits to the head since I got here and even before I got here but after Master hit me. I met this kid. John, his father works here. Russell I think." She nodded.
"Yeah Russell did say he had a son. So what happened with him?"
"Well John got into his work papers. He knows about the Earl and akuma. He spends his days patrolling with his friend Leo. Unfortunately Leo's mother died." From the look on her face Allen already knew that she already knew what had happened next. "Regrettably in his attempt to help warn people about the Earl and akuma he actually gained the attention of the Earl."
"Boys and their big mouths." Rey rolled her eyes but elbowed him jokingly.
"I tried to get him to stop but he wouldn't listen to me. The Earl turned Leo into an akuma and he went after John. I got there in time. Faced the Earl. Funnily enough he remembers me."
"I'm not so sure that's a good thing." She pointed out.
"Yeah probably not. Anyway I saved John and convinced him to not make a spectacle of himself and draw the Earl's ire. He agreed but I got shot a lot protecting him from Leo who tried to shoot him at point blank range."
"So basically what you're saying is that you've had so many head injuries that you probably have at least a concussion, if not brain damage," she glared at him, "but don't even know if because you're completely numb or perhaps your head is just too damn thick?" Rey slapped a hand to her face as her brother nodded sheepishly. "What am I gonna do with you?" She sighed dragging her hand down.
"Feed me?" He said hopefully. She rolled her eyes.
"Sure. Everybody else should be asleep so we can go on a late night snack fest. What's one more break in?" Allen snorted at her.
"Still a criminal, huh?" She scowled at him as they crept through the halls.
"You cheat at poker so you're basically stealing."
"Low blow." He hissed back, as she picked the lock on the kitchen. Both paused to wonder if Jeryy really thought this would keep them out. As they raided the kitchen Allen glanced over at his sister. So far she had seven bags of assorted chocolates and 12 packages of cookies. "Are you gonna eat all of those?"
"Not tonight but if I keep them in my room then I'm less likely to get caught coming back down here. Now let's scram while we still can." He nodded while noticing that she grabbed the coffee pot on her way by.
"Rey," he paused to consider if he actually wanted to know and then continued, "how much of that stuff do you drink?"
"Not much." She answered vaguely and he knew she was lying.
He sighed, "I see you still don't take very good care of yourself." She snorted in response.
"That's rich coming from you. You're worse than me."
It was in the early hours of the morning when the siblings parted ways. Allen slipped into his room, a sleeping Tim on his shoulder almost falling off every time the little golem nodded off. Rhea also headed to her room though she left again almost immediately, waiting just long enough for Allen to lay down and go to sleep. Creeping silently down the hall she snuck into another room. A boy lay in the bed sleeping peacefully. Gently she shook him awake. He sat bolt up.
"Who? What? Where?!"
"Hush!" She slapped her hand over his mouth. He looked up at her with dark eyes, confusion evident in them for a moment before he finally woke up a bit more and recognized her. "Rey, what are you doing here?"
"Kanda's back from his mission. Feel up to a prank?" A grin spread across his face.
"Daisya! Be quiet!" She hissed at him.
"Whoops. I mean hell yeah." He whispered it this time. Leaping out of his bed Rey turned away. "What?" He questioned at her movement.
"Daisya, clothing." He laughed nervously, after a few moments remembering that he had fallen asleep in his underwear.
"So what did you have in mind?" Daisya asked as he dressed.
"A few things. We'll start with you painting Mugan pink." Daisya grinned as they snuck out of his room. Kanda's room wasn't that far away and he never locked it. Nobody was dumb enough to break in. Or so he thought. Rhea was quick to make sure the door didn't creak, as she knew it normally did. Quickly muttering something under her breath that Daisya didn't even notice, something she had done countless times. She quickly handed the sword to Daisya. He raised an eyebrow as she leaned over Kanda once more; when she pulled away Kanda's face was covered in horribly done makeup that looked like it had been done by a five year old. His long hair, braided into intricate patterns tangled up in the headboard of his bed. "That should keep him busy for a while. Grab his underwear." Daisya turned to her.
"How many pairs?"
"All of it."
"Let's see, what else?" Kanda shifted, his hair pulling taut causing the intruders to freeze.
"Rey," he hissed to her, "maybe we should get out of here while we still can."
She nodded, "Good idea." Grabbing his left shoe on her way out she did one last thing. Pulling out some thin clear plastic she stretched it across the door before closing it gently, once again concentrating on making it silent.
Rhea woke to a loud rage filled scream similar to a lion in pain permeating the peaceful silence of the early morning. Rhaps, who had been startled by it, shot up before crashing back into her mistress' head. The girl rubbed the newly forming bruise gingerly. She waited for a moment and when she didn't hear a cry of pain she rolled over and went back to sleep. It was probably the science department, she swore those guys didn't sleep. It was too early for this. She hadn't gotten to bed until late. Whoever it was, they were probably fine. And even if they weren't she probably didn't care. It hadn't been Allen, Lena, Daisya, or Lavi or anyone else she was particularly close to. It also wasn't deep enough to be Zack, thus it was not important to her. The sun shone into her room but she just yanked the heavy quilt up over her body and covered her head with one of her many pillows. It's what they were there for. Rhaps settled back down on her own special pillow.
"Whoever did this is going to die!" The voice rang out.
"Ah, Kanda." She told Rhaps as she rolled over, turning her back on the sun.
"I hope he stops soon." Rey yawned, silent willing Kanda to shut up. She sighed happily when he did. She was almost asleep again when she heard a knock on her wall. "Nobody's home." She whined, hoping that they would go away.
"Rey?" Allen asked a bit confused at his sister's reply.
"Allen, it's too early for this."
Why's he screaming?"
"Not a clue."
"Do you think he's okay?"
"Can't you just relish in his pain? There was a moment of silence. "Besides doesn't he call you Beansprout?" She could practically hear Allen fuming.
"You're right!" She snickered a bit and closed her eyes again. She could hear Allen start his morning workout routine but it was NOT morning to her. Lenalee could keep Allen occupied for a few hours if the party wasn't ready yet. Or he could get lost. That would work too. They could just go find him later if he did.
"Who has my other boot?!" Kanda roared once more. Rhea snuggled deeper into her pillow and blankets trying to regain her lost warmth. Everything would be fine...probably. Another loud crash shattered the peace just as she was drifting off.
"Oh come on! Would everybody just shut up?!" She demanded sitting back up.
"Rey, that's not nice." Allen chided through the wall as she got up.
"I don't care." She stalked over to his room. "I'm trying to sleep!"
"Rey," Allen leaned against the door frame, "I know we were up late but still, you can't sleep all day." She turned to glare at him.
"Al, the sun is barely rising. It hasn't been all day. Besides, I had a few things to take care of last night. I was up for a few more hours after you I need sleep too ya know. I am, sorta, human." Allen shorted at her.
"Well you keep joking that I'm some kind of demon so maybe some of my energy comes from stealing souls." Allen rolled his eyes at her.
"Haven't lost your sense of humor here."
"Nope! Zack and Daisya are wonderful cohorts while Kanda makes a wonderful victim and Komui provides endless entertainment. I think Master is just a sourpuss who doesn't like to be told what to do."
"You don't like being told what to do." Allen pointed out dryly.
"Master is worse." The pair shuddered at the memory of their master. "Anyway I'm going back to sleep." Rhea answered turning back towards her room only to see Lenalee run up to them.
"I wouldn't count on it Rey. Komui wants to see us." Rhea let out a long whine at her friend's words.
"Can't Allen go instead?"
"He was included in the us part Rey."
"Oh. Well shite."
"Yep, now get dressed. You're still in your pajamas." She nudged Rhea's exposed legs with her knee. She turned to Allen who was frowning at his sister's short shorts. "You should probably put a shirt on too." Allen looked down and realized that he was indeed still shirtless.
"Yeah, that's probably a good idea." The siblings disappeared into their rooms to dress. Rhaps yawned as she settled on Rhea's head as the girl tied her fishtail with a ribbon before starting on her other one with the rest of her hair. Rhea kicked her door shut still weaving her hair together when she met the others in the hall.
"Hasn't the Order ever heard of a vacation?" She grumbled, her pace a bit slower than the others, the dark blue ribbon clenched between her teeth.
"You'd have to take that up with the Millennium Earl." Lenalee sighed.
"Find him for me and I will. I've got no probably punching him in the face!"
"Rey," Allen sighed, cradling his head in his hands, "I really don't think that's such a good idea." Rhea finished tying her hair as they entered Komui's office.
"You never know. It might be fun." She smiled cheerfully.
"What might be fun?" Komui asked interrupting the conversation and studiously ignoring the sad puppy look Lenalee was shooting at him. His eyes darted up to her for a moment and then immediately flew to Rhea who wasn't looking at him he had just taken away her only friend.
"Punching the Millennium Earl in the face and telling him to give it a rest." Komui blinded at her a couple times.
"I can't say that I would recommend it." Rhea snickered causing him to sigh. "Now before you distract us and we end up on some random topic I'm going to give you your mission."
"Yeah or to get away from the kicked puppy look." Rhea muttered in Allen's ear. He smirked at her from the corner of his mouth. Lenalee hadn't changed her expression at all.
"It appears that before they died the akuma who were chasing Zack called for reinforcements. Those reinforcements are heading this way as we speak. They are terrorizing every town they pass through and leaving nothing but death and destruction in their wake. Three towns have already been devastated. There's nobody left. People are going to be wondering what happened to their loved ones. We've got to act fast."
"Aliens." The single word uttered from Rhea's lips caused everybody to turn towards her.
"I'm sorry...?" Komui stuttered.
"Tell them aliens did it." Rhea said it again as if it was completely obvious.
"I'm confused." Lenalee stated.
Rhea sighed but explained, "If you tell them that aliens abducted those people than it explains why their clothes are still there. Plus if they've been abducted then they don't know if they're dead or not. Can't call somebody back from the dead if you don't know if they're dead or not."
"She's got a point. " Allen answered, thinking about it.
""Right," Komui trailed off having no idea what to say to that. Just what kind of children have you sent me Cross, the thought passed through his mind before he shook it away. "Well, anyway. Rhea you are to transport Allen and Lenalee a few towns over. You must stop the invasion right here right now. They cannot be allowed to progress further. Exterminate all the akuma before returning home. Make sure you have destroyed all of them before though." The three nodded. "You leave now." Komui sighed as they left. Lenalee's sad face was killing him. He hadn't meant to ruin her plans for throwing Allen a party. If it was anyone's fault it was Zack's! Not his!
The wind whistled as they flew by. Lenalee and Allen sat on the board as Rhea stood, directing it with her body. Allen shielded Lenalee with his body though Rhea quickly pulled up a curved wall to protect them. The scenery around them melded into a blend of colors.
"I wonder if Zack had innocence." Lenalee pondered.
"Maybe. That could explain why they're so relentless." Allen added on.
"It's kinda weird. They don't normally pursue a piece so persistently. Maybe there was something special about it or maybe Zack somehow managed to piss off the Earl. It's always a possibility with that one." Rhea added in. "If anyone could manage that, it'd be Zack." The board slowed down and then stopped, hovering in the air. Rhea swiveled her head, looking around. "It looks calm here so I'll set us down." Allen helped Lenalee down from the board.
"It's quiet." Lenalee's observation was a bit of an understatement. The town they had landed in was a barren wasteland. Crumbling dilapidated buildings stood all around. Many of them were only half standing. It was deathly silent all around them, not even the sounds of nature could be heard. Everything was gray; the sky, the buildings, even the ground was somehow gray.
"It doesn't look like anybody's been here in years. Maybe Komui got some bad information?" Rhea spoke, nudging a pile of what might have once been a part of a house once upon a time with the tip of her boot.
"That doesn't happen normally." Lenalee hummed though she was beginning to see how the other could think that.
"Still we should split up and look around. See if we can find any akuma or even survivors." Allen started heading in one direction. Lenalee went in another one.
"I wouldn't count on it, Al." Rhea sighed but walked in the opposite direction of her brother. The silence would have been a nice change from the chaotic Order if not for the eerie atmosphere. She couldn't shake the feeling that something bad was going to happen. Everywhere she turned shadows twisted and warped but nothing moved. "It almost feels like a trap." Rey spoke to Rhaps who fluttered by her head. She contemplated ordering her to connect with Tim and Lenalee's golem. "Does Lenalee's golem have a name? Maybe Al and I are just weird. Though I guess technically Master named Tim and I followed his example with you." Rhaps didn't answer but Rhea kept talking, not expecting the golem to answer as she moved around the abandoned community. "I'm not even sure the akuma are here anymore. Maybe the Earl gave up and called them back?" Rhaps did her best impression of skeptical glance and Rhea snickered. "Yeah you're right. That totally doesn't sound like him. They're probably hiding around here somewhere." She decided to venture into one of the houses. Like everything else it was soundless. She climbed up the stairs only to find the upper level as motionless as everything else. "Nothing in here either." Something moved in the corner of her eye as she turned to go back down the stairs. "What's was that?" A butterfly fluttered out of the shadows. Sighing Rhea stood from her battle stance. "It's just a butterfly. I wonder what it's doing here. I figured they'd go somewhere with more life." It flapped over to her. She held out her index finger, allowing it to rest. "Hello little guy." Inching like a sloth over to the window where what little light there was in the darkened house, was filtering in. the butterfly was small and mostly black except for the stark purple on the back of its wings. "Oh wow. You are a beauty." She grinned.
"Rey, who are you talking to? Did you find somebody?" Allen's voice came from Rhaps. She had been so absorbed in the butterfly she hadn't heard the golems connect.
"No. Well yes, but it's not a person. It's a butterfly." She explained. "A small butterfly marching on."
"A butterfly? Here?" Lenalee questioned.
"Yeah. It was hiding out in the house I was exploring." Rhea carried the butterfly with her as she left the house. "There you go little guy. It's better for you out here." The butterfly watched for a moment before fluttering off. "Anyway I haven't found anything here guys, it's probably just some bad information or the Earl is just fucking with us because he can. Who knows what's going through that one's head. Let's meet back up and head hom-" as the words left her lips a thunderous shriek pierced the heavens above them. Rey glared as the akuma emerged from all around her. "Oooooor not. Jeez, me and my big mouth." Harlequin slid off her arms with the command.
The air that had once been silent, now filled with screams. Everywhere they turned there were akuma. The town was overrun. The three exorcists landed on the roof of one of the few buildings still in tact.
"Do they ever end?" Lenalee demanded slicing through another akuma.
Rhea didn't answer her instead she turned to Allen and asked, "So how's this for your second, er, third," she corrected, "mission?" She snickered as his claws tore through another level one.
"It's still better than working with Kanda." Rhea laughed at his response as the whip snapped out severing the head of an akuma from the rest of the body.
"He's not so bad once you get to know him." Lenalee answered killing another akuma.
"Translation," Rhea explained with a wide grin, "he's an arsehole but you get used to it."
"Great. That's really good to know." Allen sighed though the sarcasm was dripping from his tone.
"You two really are siblings. Rey uses that same tone of voice."
"Well we did grow up together. You think we do it well you should hear Master." Rhea answered Lenalee.
"Please don't bring him up." Allen moaned as if he was in physical pain.
"Fair enough." Rhea relented and dropped the subject, snapping her whip out to slice through several more akuma like butter.
"Let's just get this done!" Lenalee shouted.
"In your darkest hour when the demons come call on me brother, and we will fight them together."